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Ten Held for Encroaching on Wambabya Central Forest Reserve

John Bosco Muruli, the Supervisor Wambabya Central Forest Reserve, says the suspects were found carrying out illegal activities including bush clearing, charcoal burning, lumbering and cultivation among others.

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Ten people in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district are in trouble for encroaching on Wambabya Central forest reserve.

The ten were picked up on Saturday in a joint operation involving National Forestry Authority-NFA officials and Environmental Police.

John Bosco Muruli, the Supervisor Wambabya Central Forest Reserve, says the suspects were found carrying out illegal activities including bush clearing, charcoal burning, lumbering and cultivation among others.

He says the operation was prompted by reporters that some people had encroached on the forest reserve.  Muruli identifies the suspects as Denis Atugonza, Medard Kwehangana, Francis Abawe, Fred Bagonza, Moses Masembe, Brian Amanyire, Reuben Muhumuza, Godfrey Sentongo and Leonard Sekagya from the districts of Hoima, Kagadi and Kikuube.

He says the suspects had spent one month in the forest reserve and had cleared more than four hectares of the forest land.

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The suspects are locked up at Hoima Central police station. According to Muruli, the suspects will appear in court for encroaching on a protected once police inquiries are complete. Encroachment threatens several forests in Bunyoro region. 

The most affected forests are Bugoma, Wambabya, Kangombe and Kasongoire. NFA has carried out similar operations in the past to free the forest reserves of encroachers but they keep returning. 

In August 2016, NFA officials arrested six members of Tulipona war Veterans Association for encroaching on Bugoma Central forest reserve, claiming president, Museveni had given it to them.

Uganda losses up to 200,000 hectares of forest cover annually to encroachment and human activities. Firewood remains the main source of domestic fuel most especially in rural homes, a thing fuel encroachment on forests.